Sunday, March 16, 2008

What a day to be a sports fan...


Sometimes the sports schedule lines up so you can plan your whole day around a series of events that happen in succession.

Then there are days where there are 3 HUGE things going on all at once. That was Sunday. Check this out:

-At 3:30 PM ET, the Rockets were tipping off at home, going for their 22nd consecutive win while playing host to Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
-At the same time, the SEC Championship game was tipping off in Atlanta, with the Georgia Bulldogs trying to win their 3rd game in less than 30 hours and play their way into the NCAA Tournament.
-And, at about the same time, the leaders were hitting the back 9 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. One of those leaders was Tiger Woods.

This doesn’t even take into account the Big Ten and Big 12 championship games that were happening as well, but didn’t have the intrigue of the other events.

Unfortunately, I don’t have 3 TVs in my living room, and even if I did, they probably wouldn’t all be hooked up to cable boxes, so I couldn’t watch everything at once... but I tried.

At first, my attention was mainly on the Rockets, who opened up a 15-point halftime lead. Midway through the 2nd quarter of the Rockets game, I decided to utilize the TV in my bedroom to “watch” the golf. And by “watch”, I mean “listen for when Tiger Woods is taking a shot and run in to watch that.”

Meanwhile, I was occasionally flipping over to see Georgia open up a big lead against Arkansas. At this point it looked like the only event with true intrigue down the stretch might be the golf, where Tiger Woods was tied with Bart Bryant for the lead, two shots clear of the field.

Then, all the proverbial shit hit the fan: Georgia got tired, the Lakers got hot and suddenly, and with the golf coming to the critical final 3 holes both of the basketball games were incredibly close. This is where the watching got hard. I could keep an ear on the golf, but had to keep flipping between the basketball games.

Everything started to clear up at about 5:30, when, after a series of offensive rebounds, Albert Jackson of Georgia threw it down, giving the Bulldogs a 5-point lead. From there, Georgia cruised to an 8-point win, getting the SEC’s automatic bid to the Big Dance.

Just as Georgia was wrapping up its win, Tiger Woods was stepping to the tee on the 18th hole with this scenario:

-par forces a playoff with Bart Bryant, in the clubhouse at 9-under
-birdie gives him the win outright, the 64th of his career
-bogey or worse gives the win to Bryant

What do you think happened? Of course Tiger birdied. He nailed his drive, hit his approach to 24 feet despite a drastic wind change between the two shots, then holed the 24-footer, the only putt outside 20 feet that he made all week. His reaction was priceless, spiking his hat and screaming in celebration. He’s now 3-for-3 on the PGA TOUR this season, and I’m really not sure when -- or if -- he’s going to lose this season.

Once Tiger had things wrapped up, I could focus on the Rockets, and they apparently could focus on making all their shots. I turned it on with just over 5 minutes left, as Shane Battier (Mr. BATTIER!) hit a 3-pointer to give Houston a 7-point lead. That was the 2nd bucket in a stretch that saw Houston make 6 of 8 shots to open up a 14-point lead in a game they ended up winning by 12. The Rockets have now won 22 straight overall, 15 straight at home, and -- most impressively -- 10 straight since Yao Ming got hurt.

All in all, not a bad day to be wearing red (the primary color for Georgia, the Rockets and Tiger Woods) or to be a sports fan.

Oh yeah, did I mention it’s selection Sunday? Get your brackets ready. I’ll have my picks later this week.

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